[c++] Visual Studio: LINK : fatal error LNK1181: cannot open input file

I've been encountering a strange bug in Visual Studio 2010 for some time now.

I have a solution consisting of a project which compiles to a static library, and another project which is really simple but depends on this library.

Sometimes, in the last days extremely frequent, after Rebuilding the Solution or just compiling it with 1-3 changed source files, I get the following error:

2>LINK : fatal error LNK1181: cannot open input file 'thelibrary.lib'
========== Rebuild All: 1 succeeded, 1 failed, 0 skipped ==========

Where compiling thelibrary.lib was a success without any errors or warnings.

I have tried cleaning the solution, but that doesn't always work.

  • What is wrong here?

This question is related to c++ visual-studio compiler-construction

The answer is


I'm stumbling into the same issue. For me it seems to be caused by having 2 projects with the same name, one depending on the other.

For example, I have one project named Foo which produces Foo.lib. I then have another project that's also named Foo which produces Foo.exe and links in Foo.lib.

I watched the file activity w/ Process Monitor. What seems to be happening is Foo(lib) is built first--which is proper because Foo(exe) is marked as depending on Foo(lib). This is all fine and builds successfully, and is placed in the output directory--$(OutDir)$(TargetName)$(TargetExt). Then Foo(exe) is triggered to rebuild. Well, a rebuild is a clean followed by a build. It seems like the 'clean' stage of Foo.exe is deleting Foo.lib from the output directory. This also explains why a subsequent 'build' works--that doesn't delete output files.

A bug in VS I guess.

Unfortunately I don't have a solution to the problem as it involves Rebuild. A workaround is to manually issue Clean, and then Build.


I had the same error when running lib.exe from cmd on Windows with a long argument list. apparently cmd.exe has max line length of about 8K characters, which resulted that the filenames at the end of this threshold got changed, thus resulting in bad filename error. my solution was to trim the line. I removed all paths from filenames and added single path using /LIBPATH option. for example:

/LIBPATH:absolute_path /OUT:outfilename filename1.obj filename2.obj ... filenameN.obj

I don't know why, but changing the Linker->Input->Additional Dependencies reference from "dxguid.lib" to "C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft DirectX SDK (June 2010)\Lib\x86\dxguid.lib" (in my case) was the only thing that worked.


I recently hit the same error. Some digging brought up this: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/815645

Basically, if you have spaces in the path of the .lib, that's bad. Don't know if that's what's happening for you, but seems reasonably possible.

The fix is either 1) put the lib reference in "quotes", or 2) add the lib's path to your Library Directories (Configuration Properties >> VC++ Directories).


I solved it with the following:

Go to View-> Property Pages -> Configuration Properties -> Linker -> Input

Under additional dependencies add the thelibrary.lib. Don't use any quotations.


I can see only 1 things happening here: You did't set properly dependences to thelibrary.lib in your project meaning that thelibrary.lib is built in the wrong order (Or in the same time if you have more then 1 CPU build configuration, which can also explain randomness of the error). ( You can change the project dependences in: Menu->Project->Project Dependencies )


Go to:

Project properties -> Linker -> General -> Link Library Dependencies set No.

I had the same problem. Solved it by defining a macro OBJECTS that contains all the linker objects e.g.:

OBJECTS = target.exe kernel32.lib mylib.lib (etc)

And then specifying $(OBJECTS) on the linker's command line.

I don't use Visual Studio though, just nmake and a .MAK file


In my case I had the library installed using NuGet package (cpprestsdk) AND I falsely added the lib to the Additional Dependancies in the Linker settings. It turns out, the package does it all for you.

The linker then tried to find the library in the library path and of course could not find it.

After removing the library from the Additional Dependencies everything compiled and linked fine.


I had the same issue in both VS 2010 and VS 2012. On my system the first static lib was built and then got immediately deleted when the main project started building.

The problem is the common intermediate folder for several projects. Just assign separate intermediate folder for each project.

Read more on this here


I created a bin directory at the project_dir level, then created a release/debug directory inside the bin folder, which solved the problem for me.


Maybe you have a hardware problem.

I had the same problem on my old system (AMD 1800 MHz CPU ,1GB RAM ,Windows 7 Ultimate) ,until I changed the 2x 512 MB RAM to 2x 1GB RAM. Haven't had any problems since. Also other (minor) problems disappeared. Guess those two 512 MB modules didn't like each other that much ,because 2x 512 MB + 1GB or 1x 512 MB + 2x 1GB didn't work properly either.


I had a similar problem in that I was getting LINK1181 errors on the .OBJ file that was part of the project itself (and there were only 2 .cxx files in the entire project).

Initially I had setup the project to generate an .EXE in Visual Studio, and then in the Property Pages -> Configuration Properties -> General -> Project Defaults -> Configuration Type, I changed the .EXE to .DLL. Suspecting that somehow Visual Studio 2008 was getting confused, I recreated the entire solution from scratch using .DLL mode right from the start. Problem went away after that. I imagine if you manually picked your way through the .vcproj and other related files you could figure out how to fix things without starting from scratch (but my program consisted of two .cpp files so it was easier to start over).


You can also fix the spaces-in-path problem by specifying the library path in DOS "8.3" format.

To get the 8.3 form, do (at the command line):

DIR /AD /X

recursively through every level of the directories.


I found a different solution for this...

Actually, I missed comma separator between two library paths. After adding common it worked for me.

Go to: Project properties -> Linker -> General -> Link Library Dependencies At this path make sure the path of the library is correct.

Previous Code (With Bug - because I forgot to separate two lib paths with comma):

<Link><AdditionalLibraryDirectories>..\..\Build\lib\$(Configuration)**..\..\Build\Release;**%(AdditionalLibraryDirectories)</AdditionalLibraryDirectories>

Code after fix (Just separate libraries with comma):

<Link><AdditionalLibraryDirectories>..\..\Build\lib\$(Configuration)**;..\..\Build\Release;**%(AdditionalLibraryDirectories)</AdditionalLibraryDirectories>

Hope this will help you.


For me the problem was a wrong include directory. I have no idea why this caused the error with the seemingly missing lib as the include directory only contains the header files. And the library directory had the correct path set.


In Linker, general, additional library directories, add the directory to the .dll or .libs you have included in Linker, Input. It does not work if you put this in VC++ Directories, Library Directories.


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